Brazil reluctantly gives in to Fifa's demands
After months of controversy and power struggles, the Brazilian Congress gave in and passed the so-called 2014 World Cup General Law, which will allow FIFA to press on with its lucrative business deals en route to the global event.
The ruling-party majority in the Senate passed the bill late Wednesday, although it did so reluctantly amid strong criticism both of the heavy pressure by the government on legislators and of the decision to allow changes in the Brazilian law, which according to some critics amounts to a violation of the country's sovereignty by FIFA.
Criticism targetted mainly the decision by the government of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to suspend during the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup the legal ban on the use and sale of alcoholic beverages in stadiums.
Brazil's hard-fought ban on alcohol has aimed to prevent violence at football games. Opposition Senator Agripino Maia warned that lifting the ban was "very dangerous."
"The whole of Brazil sees fights between gangs of hooligans ... Just imagine a final between Brazil and Argentina," said opposition Senator Agripino Maia.
Ruling-party legislators also slammed the law, although they voted massively in favour of it.
"We cannot avoid expressing our opposition on things that we regard as absurd, such as suspending the Fans' Statute, which was a great achievement for Brazilian society," said ruling-party Senator Humberto Costa.
Costa noted that he voted in favour of the law, but stressed that he did so under protest.
"We had no alternative," he said.
"I would have wanted to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages, but the text needs to be passed one year before the Confederations Cup. The government's hurry put us in a suffocating position," said Senator Ana Amelia Lemos.
Those who campaigned for the bill said it merely formalized commitments that Brazil had already made in 2007, when then-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed with FIFA a deal to abide by the demands of the governing body of world football.
Such demands, moreover, have to be satisfied by all World Cup hosts, those in favour of the bill noted, and they further stressed that Brazil stands to gain a lot from the event in terms of tourism and infrastructure.
Indeed, FIFA made some concessions in order to secure approval of the law that provides a framework for its World Cup business.
As passed, the law reserves 10 per cent of the tickets for all of Brazil's matches to be sold more cheaply to students and recipients of a government subsidy for the poor. Those aged over 60 will be able to get tickets at half price for all matches.
FIFA is now all set to launch in June the logo of the Brazil 2014 World Cup and kick off the commercial exploitation of the event by sponsors willing to pay heavy sums for that right.
"More than just a recognizable symbol of the World Cup, the logo is a real gold mine for FIFA. Already in 2011, the organization signed contracts worth over 900 million dollars with partners who are set to be active in Brazil, a record amount which is twice what FIFA got in the first year of selling Germany 2006," said Brazilian analyst Jamil Chade.
Chate ventured that the 3.8 billion dollars estimated as FIFA's windfall through to the 2014 World Cup was starting to look like a "conservative" projection.